Last week we sat on the front porch and watched torrential rain, the remnants of Hurricane Ike which blew through Houston and practically leveled Galveston.
It was peaceful as we sat on the porch enjoying the breeze, although the sky was dark. In two days we had 7 inches of rain, flooding roads and rivers. The wind was gusting up to 30 mph and people across the Midwest were out of power.
Here in southern Michigan we are a long way from Texas, but it also felt like we were a long way from the storm that has been blowing through our lives. Three weeks ago four doctors told us mom had three days to live.
But mom seems very alert and alive. She has been through hurricanes before. She had two feet of water in her home when Donna raked southwest Florida in 1960. And the storms mom has weathered are both physical and emotional.
She was never one to run from a hurricane. I remember as a kid going to the beach just to watch a storm roll in. I remember the hurricane parties— the old timers and the natives riding it out, laughing and gathering around flickering kerosene lanterns as the power went out.
And I remember going out after the storm to pick up the coconuts and mangos that had blown from people’s yards onto the street. It turns out that a pie made of green mangos tastes just like a peach one.
But there was one thing everyone stressed at a hurricane party. Don’t go outside just because the wind died down. The eye of the storm brings a deceptive calm, but when it passes the wind comes back stronger, and a wall of water washes in from the sea.
This feels like a hurricane party, with mom joking around, giving the visiting nurse and aides a hard time, and enjoying foods long forbidden. She wants to go home but it doesn’t seem likely. Her energy rises and falls; her sleep is restless and uneven. Every day she says she wants to get up, but can’t really tolerate our raising the head of the bed.
Even in the eye of the storm the devastation is obvious. Some days she is exhausted, and struggles to find the words she wants. On those days, her emotions are clouded and clarity comes in waves.
But three weeks out, we are grateful for the good days, the ones when she chats and laughs, and God’s grace refreshes us as we watch the clouds gather.
Perhaps this is just a tropical depression. More likely it is the eye of the storm, and the hardest winds are yet to come. Grief will wash over us, but we will ride it out and pick up the mangos when it’s done.
For now there is a calm. And the party goes on.